Pizza Pockets

FullSizeRenderCan’t beat the draw of fresh, savory bread, filled with hot pepperoni and gooey melted cheese. Since we’re not Italian, I feel we can’t call these calzones, so they’ve been dubbed “pizza pockets” in our house. And as the definition of a calzone is “an Italian oven-baked folded pizza,” our name works perfectly well. 

It all started with a magazine recipe clipping for “mini French loaves” that sounded more Italian than French in their ingredient listing, and a house full of teenage boys who were bottomless pits. I’d made this dough into buns for dinner, and the guys said, “Hey, this kind of tastes like pizza!” So I decided to make it more like pizza by stuffing it with pepperoni and a mix of cheeses, and then dipping the pizza pockets into purchased marinara sauce. A star was born. (Then I found out that Calzones were a “thing” and I wasn’t the genius I thought I was…oh well. Not the first time!)

I’d not made these for years, and then my son Justin was reminiscing about this dish to his lovely fiancé Ashley. So of course I had to make them for her… She loved them as much as the guys always have, which means she passed the test—welcome to the fam, Ash! 

Now, I have to mention, I’ve tried filling these with a variety of things over the years: sausage and mushroom, green peppers and Canadian bacon and pineapple, etc. But nothing seems to work out as well as the plain old pepperoni and cheese. When something works, sometimes you just have to leave it alone and enjoy the simplicity of it.

Makes 8 pizza pockets

1¼ cups warm water
2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (Kraft is fine, doesn’t need to be all fancy!)
3 to 3½ cups all-purpose flour

Package of pepperoni slices
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

For Dipping
Jar of purchased Marinara sauce (My pick is Trader Joe’s as it’s about $1.79 per jar and doesn’t use corn syrupn.)

Dissolve yeast in water in large mixing bowl, letting rise until yeast begins to foam on top. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add sugar, seasonings, 2 cups flour, and Parmesan cheese, and beat until all ingredients are combined. Add flour ½ cup at a time and mix on low setting to form a soft dough. Note that you may not need all of the remaining 1½ cups of flour. Only add flour until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Grease a clean bowl with shortening, and place dough into bowl, turning once to grease top of dough. Cover with damp kitchen towel and let rise in warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Grease a baking sheet with olive oil, and sprinkle pan with a light dusting of cornmeal. Punch dough down, and divide into 8 equal-sized pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Roll out into an oval disk using rolling pin. Place about 6 pieces of pepperoni on one half of the disk, in a pyramid of 3 pieces, 2 pieces, and 1 piece. Top with a handful of grated cheeses, then fold empty half of dough over the side filled with pepperoni and cheese. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges of the dough. Move pizza pocket to greased pan. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Let dough rise in warm place for 30-45 minutes, or until almost doubled in size. (I like to fill my sink with hot water, then top the sink with an oven rack, and place pan on rack. This creates nice humid conditions for rising dough.) Once dough is risen, bake in preheated oven on center rack for 12-15 minutes, or until top of bread is light golden brown. Remove to cooling rack for about 10 minutes before serving. Heat marinara sauce in saucepan for a few minutes. Serve pizza pockets with a small ramekin of Marinara sauce for dipping as you eat.

Confessions of a Food Blogger

Chester IMG_0993Question: Enjoy your blog posts! But tell me, what do you REALLY eat?

Answer: Thanks, Chester (pictured here sending in a question…)! I get that question a lot. All my posts are things I’ve made and eaten—on weeknights as well as weekends—and lived to blog about them. But not everything I make is blog-worthy. Gentle readers, rest assured, we do not sit around sipping rose-infused mineral water and nibbling on pâté made from baby rabbit livers. Well, once in a while we do, but most of the time we eat just like you. We have scrambled eggs for dinner. We scrounge for leftovers in the back of the refrigerator, hoping to score something that isn’t growing mold. I just found a sweet potato in my pantry that’s sprouted so many roots it looks like Ursala from The Little Mermaid. And there’s a mystery smell in the frig right now, and I canNOT identify the culprit! Ugh.

Don’t get me wrong. I love food! I love coming up with new ideas for dinner or dessert, or reviving old favorites to freshen them up. And we do eat well most of the time. But sometimes I’m just too tired after work to make a meal, and enthusiastically welcome take-out. (How one can possibly tire of mousing and clicking all day? It’s not like I work in a coal mine…sheesh.) Once my neighbor Diane popped over around dinner time, apologizing for interrupting what she thought would be haute cuisine prep. She didn’t walk in on lemon frittata in the making, or anything even remotely “foodie” in nature. Time to show the flip side of the coin.

Sadly, there was no dinner preparation going on for Diane to interrupt. I was sitting in front of the TV watching Modern Family re-runs, while I snarfed down a couple pieces of pizza leftover from Papa Murphy’s 10 Dollar Tuesdays. (The Hawaiian, with added green peppers, in case you’re wondering.) At least I’d heated up my ‘za and wasn’t downing it cold, like some half-starved college student. But there was not a fork, knife, or spoon in sight. I’m not sure I even had a Brawny paper towel handy for a napkin. And I was drinking my Diet Coke straight from the can, ’cause I was too lazy to bother getting up to grab a glass and fill it with ice. Classy, huh?

So yes, food bloggers eat like real people. Yes, I eat pizza someone else has made. Leftover. Does that make anyone feel better? The glimpse of reality sure made Diane laugh. And I think she felt just a ping of relief, too.

DISCLAIMER: No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog.